When I think of a couple of college grads growing mushrooms in their basement, I don't exactly think of a packaging materials revolution taking place, but that's exactly what Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre were doing in 2009.
In his first job after graduating from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Eben's work led him to research an eco-sustainable method for protecting delicate mechanisms. Translation: an alternative to styrofoam. (styrofoam, by the way is made of the same combo of chemicals as napalm -- and food is transported and eaten out of it every day--not to mention that it's a known carcinogen and doesn't biodegrade -- yikes, what are we thinking?!).
In exploring the alternatives, the guys discovered that mushrooms had a natural binding agent, or glue, and when combined with bio waste (inedible crop waste, like rice hulls or seed husks) could be formed into a molded shape.
I read about this product a couple of years ago in The L Magazine and got really excited about the possibilities, after all, so many things -- like cars -- have numerous components made of molded foam, and the density of ecocradle can be controlled to produce a very, very strong product.
When I found out the company had been given a TED award I felt like a proud cousin. You can see Eben on TEDTalks below and you can watch time-lapse of the eco-friendly packaging growing.
Visit the website to read case studies from Dell, Steel Case, and others, and while you're there, show your support with a visit the store. You may not be ready for a mushroom duck or a mushroom bowl, but the herb planter would make a thoughtful gift!